Gerald Massey: My Lyrical Life III.

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A LETTER IN BLACK.


A-FLOATING on the fragrant flood
    Of Summer—fuller hour by hour;
All the Spring-sweetness of the bud
    Crowned by the glory of the flower,—
My spirits with the season flowed,
    The air was all a breathing balm;
The lake a flame of sapphire glowed;
    The mountains lay in cloudless calm:

Green leaves were lusty; roses blushed
    For pleasure in the golden time;
The birds through all their feathers flushed
    For gladness of their marriage-prime:
Listless among the lilies I threw
    Me down, for coolness, 'mid the sheen:
Heaven, one large smile of brooding blue;
    Earth, one large smile of basking green.

A rich suspended shower of gold
    Laburnum o'er me hung its crown:
You look up heavenward and behold
    It glowing, coming in glory down!
There, as my thoughts of greenness grew
    To fruitage of a leafy dream,—
There, friend, your letter thrilled me through,
    And all the summer lost its gleam.

The world, so pleasant to the sight,
    So full of voices blithe and brave,
And all her lamps of beauty alight
    With life!   I had forgot the Grave;
And there it opened at my feet,
    Revealing a familiar face
Upturned, my whitened look to meet,
    And very patient in its place.

My poor bereaven friend!   I know
    Not how to word it, but would bring
A little solace for your woe,—
    A little love for comforting:
And yet the best that I can say
    Will only help to sum your loss;
I can but look and long, and pray
    God help my friend to bear his Cross.

I have felt something of your smart,
    And lost the dearest things e'er wound
In love about a human heart:
    I, too, have life-roots underground.
From out my soul hath leaped a cry
    For help!   Nor God Himself could save:
And tears yet start that naught will dry
    Save Death's hand with the dust o' the grave.

God knows, and we may one day know,
    These hidden secrets of His love;
But now the stillness stuns us so;
    Darkly, as in a dream, we move.
The glad life-pulses come and go,
    Over our head and at our feet;
Soft airs are sighing something low;
    The flowers are saying something sweet;

And 'tis a merry world.    The lark
    Is singing over the green corn;
Only the house and heart are dark,—
    Only the human world forlorn.
There, in the bridal-chamber, lies
    A dear bedfellow all in white;
That purple shadow under the eyes,
    Where star-fire swam in liquid night.

Sweet, slippery silver of her talk;
    The music of her laugh so dear,
Heard in home-ways, and wedded walk,
    For many and many a golden year;
The singing soul and shining face,
    Daisy-like glad by roughest road;
Gone! with a thousand dearnesses
    That hid themselves for us and glowed.

The waiting Angel, patient Wife,
    All through the battle at our side,
That smiled her sweetness on our strife
    For gain, and it was sanctified!
When waves of trouble beat breast-high
    And the heart sank, she poured a balm
That stilled them; and the saddest sky
    Made clear and starry with her calm.

And when the world with harvest ripe
    In all its golden fulness lay;
And God, it seemed, saw fit to wipe,
    Even on earth, all tears away;
The good true heart that bravely won,
    Must smile up in our face and fall;
And all our happy days are done,
    And this the end. And is this all?

The bloom of bliss, the secret glow,
    That clothed without, and inly curled,
All gone.   We are left shivering now,
    Naked to the wide open world!
A shrivelled, withered world it is,
    So sad and miserably cold;
Where be its vaunted braveries?
    'Tis gray, and miserably old.

Our joy was all a drunken dream;
    This is the truth at waking! we
Are swept out rootless by the stream
    And current of calamity—
Out on some lone and shoreless sea
    Of solitude so vast and deep,
As 'twere the wrong Eternity,
    Where God is not, or gone to sleep.

It seems as though our darling dead,
    Startled at Death's so sudden call,
With falling hands and dear bowed head
    Had, like a flower-filled lap, let fall
A hoard of treasures we have found
    Too late! so slow doth wisdom come!
We for the first time look around
    Remembering this is not our Home.

My friend, I see you with your cup
    Of tears and trembling—see you sit;
And long to help you drink it up,
    With useless longings infinite!—
Sit rocking the old mournful thought,
    That on the heart's-blood will be nursed,
Unless the blessed tears be brought;
    Unless the cloudy sorrows burst.

The little ones are gone to rest,
    And for a while they will not miss
The Mother-wings above the nest;
    But through their slumber slides her kiss,
And, dreaming she has come, they start,
    And toss wild arms for her caress,
With moanings that must thrill a heart
    In heaven with divine distress.

And Sorrow on your threshold stands,
    The Dark Ladye in glooming pall:
I see her take you by the hands;
    I feel her shadow over all.
Hers is no warm and tender clasp;
    With silence solemn as the Night's,
And veilèd face, and spirit-grasp,
    She leads her Chosen up the heights:

The cloudy crags are cold and gray,
    You cannot scale them without scars:
So many Martyrs by the way,
    Who never reached her tower of stars;
But there her beauty shall be seen,
    Her glittering face so proudly pure;
And all her majesty of mien ;
    And all her guerdon shall be sure.

Well.    'Tis not written, God will give
    To His Beloved only rest!
The hard life of the cross they live,
    They strive, and suffer, and are blest.
The feet must bleed to reach their throne,
    The brow must burn before it bear
One of the crowns that may be won,
    By workers for immortal wear.

Dear friend, life beats though buried 'neath
    A vast black vault of night! and see
There trembles through this dark of death,
    Starlight of immortality!
And yet shall dawn the eternal day
    To kiss the eyes of them that sleep;
And He shall wipe all tears away
    From tired eyes of them that weep.

'Tis something for the poor bereaven,
    In such a weary world of care,
To think that we have friends in heaven;
    Who helped us here, may aid us there.
These yearnings for them set our Arc
    Of being widening more and more,
In circling sweep through outer dark
    To day more perfect than before.

So much was left unsaid.    The soul
    Must live in other worlds to be;
On earth we cannot grasp the whole,
    For that Love has eternity.
Love deep as death, and rich as rest;
    Love that was love with all Love's might;
Level to needs the lowliest!
    Cannot be less Love at full-height.

Though earthly forms be far apart,
    Spirit to spirit nestles nigher;
The music chords the same at heart,
    Though one voice range an octave higher.
Eyes watch us that we cannot see;
    Lips warn us which we may not kiss;
They wait for us, and starrily,
    Lean toward us from heaven's lattices.

We cannot see them face to face,
    But love is nearness; and they love
Us yet, nor change, with change of place,
    In more than human worlds above,
Where love, once leal, hath never ceased,
    And dear eyes never lose their shine,
And there shall be a marriage feast,
    That turns Earth's water to Heaven's Wine.

 

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WIDOW MARGARET.


Poor Margaret's window is alight;
    The Widow sits alone;
Though long into the silent night,
    And far, the world is gone.
She lives in shadow till her blood
    Grows bitter and blackened all;
Upon her head a mourning hood;
    Upon her heart a pall.

The stars come nightly out of heaven,
    Old Darkness to beguile;
For her there is no healing given
    To their sweet spirit-smile.
That honey-dew of sleep the skies
    In blessed balm let fall,
Drops not on her poor tired eyes,
    Though it be sent for all.

At some dead flower, with fragrance faint,
    Her life opes like a book;
The old sweet music makes its plaint,
    And, from the grave's dim nook,
The buried bud of hopes laid low,
    Flowers in the night full-blown;
And little things of Long-Ago
    Come back to her full-grown.

Her heart is wandering in a whirl,
    And she must seek the tomb
Where lies her long-lost little girl.
    O, well with them for whom
Love's Morning-Star comes round so fair
    As Evening Star of Faith,
Already up and shining, ere
    The dark of coming death.

But Margaret cannot reach a hand,
    Beyond the dark of death;
Her spirit swoons in that high land
    Where breathes no human breath;
She cannot look upon the grave
    As one eternal shore;
From which a soul may take the wave,
    For heaven, to sail or soar.

Across that Deep no sail unfurled,
    For her; no wings put forth;
She tries to reach the other world
    By groping down through earth.
'Twas there the Child went underground;
    They parted in that place;
And ever since, the Mother found
    The door shut in her face.

Though many effacing springs have wrapped
    With green the dark grave-bed;
'Twas there, the breaking heart-strings 
        snapped
    As she let down her dead;
And there she gropes with wild heart yet,
    For years, and years, and years;
Poor Margaret ! there will she let
    Her sorrow loose in tears.

All the young mother in her old voice
    Its waking moan will make!
A young aurora light her eyes
    With radiance gone to wreck:
And then at dawn she will return,
    To her old self again;
Eyes dim and dry; heart gray and dern;
    And querulous in her pain.—

"We never loved each other much,
    I and my poor good-man;
But on the Child we lavished such
    A love as overran
All boundaries, loving her the more
    Because our love was pent;
Striving as two seas try to pour
    Their strength through one small rent.

"For children come to still link hands,
    When lives have ebbed apart;
And hide the rift, when either stands
    At distance heart from heart.
So on our little one we'd look;
    Press hands with fonder grasp;
As though we closed some holy book,
    Softly, with golden clasp.

"And as the dark earth offers up
    Her little Winterling,
The Crocus, pleading with its cup
    Of hoarded gold, to bring
Down all the gray heaven's quickening shower
    Of Spring to warm the sod;
So did we lift the winsome flower
    That sprang from our dark clod.

"Our little Golden-heart, her name!
    And all things sweet and calm,
And pure and fragrant, round her came
    With gifts of bloom and balm.
And there she grew, my flower of all,
    Pure gold and pearly white;
Just as at Summer's smiling call
    The lily stands alight.

"To knee or nipple, was the goal
    Of her wee stately walk;
The voice of my own silent soul
    Her darling baby-talk;
Then darklingly she dwined and failed;
    And looking on our dead,
The father wailed awhile and ailed,
    Turned to the wall and said—

"''Tis dark and still, our house of life,
    The fire is burning low;
Our pretty one is gone, old Wife,
    'Tis time for me to go:
Our Golden-heart has gone to sleep ;
    She's happed in for the night;
And so to bed I'll quietly creep,
    And sleep till morning light.'"

Once more the Widow Margaret rose
    And through the night passed on.
Long shadows weird of tree and house
    Made ghosts in moonlight wan!
She passed into the churchyard, where
    The many glad life-waves
That leapt of old, have stood still there,
    In green and grassy graves.

"O would my body were at rest
    Beneath this cool grave-sward:
O would my soul were with the Blest,
    That slumber in the Lord!
They sleep so sweetly underground ;
    For Death hath shut the door,
And all the world of sorrow and sound
    Can trouble them no more."

A spirit-feel is in the place,
    That makes the poor heart gasp;
Her soul stands white up in her face
    For one warm human clasp!
To-night she sees the Grave astir;
    And as in prayer she kneels,
The mystery opens unto her:
    She for the first time feels

The spirit-world may be as near
    Us moving silent round,
As are the dead that sleep a mere
    Short fathom underground;
And there be eyes that see the sight
    Of lorn ones wandering, vexed
Through some long, sad, and shadowy night
    Betwixt this world and next.

Doorways of fear, are eye and ear,
    Through which the wonders go;
And through the night with glow-worm light,
    The Church is all aglow!
There comes a waft of Sabbath hymn;
    She enters; all the air
With faces fills divine and dim,
    The Blessed Dead are there.

One came and bade poor Margaret sit,
    Seemed to her as it smiled,
A great white Bird of God alit
    In a forest marble-aisled.
"Look to the Altar!" there a spell
    Fixed her; she saw upstart,
A Woman, like a soul in hell,
    'Twas her own Golden-heart.

"It would have been thus, Mother dear,
    And so God took her, from
All trials and temptations here,
    To His eternal home;
And you shall see her in a place
    Where death can never part."
She looked up, and in that pure face
    Found her own Golden-heart.

The lofty music rose again
    From all those happy souls,
Till all the windows thrilled, as when
    The organ-thunder rolls;
And all her life was like a light
    Weak weed the stream doth sway,
Until it reaches the full-height,
    Breaks, and is borne away.

Her life stood still a-listening to
    The music! then a hand
Took hers, and she was floated through
    A mystic border-land.
'Twas Golden-heart! from that eclipse
    She drew her into bliss:
Two spirits closed at dying lips,
    In one immortal kiss.

Next day an early worshipper
    Was kneeling in the Aisle;
A statue of life that did not stir,
    But knelt on with a smile
Upon the face that smiled with light,
    As though, when left behind,
It smiled on with some glorious sight
    Long after the eyes were blind.

 

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PICTURES IN THE FIRE.


OLD Winter blows, and whistles hard,
    To keep his fingers warm, while I
Shut out the cold night, frosty-starred,
    Bleak earth and bitter sky;
And to the Fireplace nestle nigher,
To pore on pictures in the Fire.

It has a soft, blithe, murmuring glow,
    As if it crooned a cradle-song;
Yet whispers of some awful woe
    Are on each flaming tongue
That may have licked up human life,
Quick, ruddy as a murderer's knife!

I see the Dead Men underground,
    Just as they found them rank on rank;
Old Mothers—Young Wives—red-eyed
        round
    The Corpses brought to bank;
I see the mournful phantoms flit
About the mouth of Hartley Pit;

And that poor Widow above the rest
    All eminent in Suffering's crown,
Who wearing sorrow's loftiest crest
    Is bowed the lowliest down;
Poor Widow with her Coffins seven,
Look down on Her, dear God in Heaven!

I hear that crash with sinking heart—
    Eternity has broken through!
I see him play his Hero part,
    A leader tried and true,
Who faithful stood to his last breath,
And fell betwixt them and their death.

I hear him bid them trim their lamps—
    For Light hath not gone out in Heaven!
And through the dark, above the damps,
    He beacons them to haven:
Long in his eyes had lived the light
That should make starry such a Night.

I see the strong man's agony,
    That seeks to rend his ghastly shroud;
The touch of solemn radiancy
    That kindles through the cloud;
The trust that earned a nobler doom
Than such a death in such a tomb;

The valour that invisibly
    Lifted the bosom like a targe;
The hidden forces that must be,
    Ready for Life's last charge!
And all the bravery brave in vain,
And all the majesty of pain:

Visions of the old Home that flash
    With all the mind's last mortal power;
The tears that burn their way, to wash
    A soul white in an hour,
When thoughts of God go deeper than
The Devil at his utmost can.

I hear the poor faint heart's low cry
    That sickens at the sight of Doom;
The prayer of those that feel it nigh,
    And groping through the gloom!
They cower together hand-in-hand
At the dark door of the dark land.

Ghostly and far away life seems
    To one returning from a swound;
And sharp the sorrow comes in dreams
    When we are helpless bound;
But deathliest swoons, or ghastliest nights,
Have no such sounds, or spirit-sights.

The waiting human world is near,
    Yet farther off than Heaven for them
Who bow the doomèd head, to bear
    Death's cruel diadem,
With farewell words of solemn cheer
And love for those who cannot hear:

Old heads with hair like spray above
    A tossed and troubled sea of life;
Young hearts, just kissed to the quick by
        Love,
    That leave a one-day wife.
O pathos of a hopeless fate!
O pain of those left desolate!

'Tis brave to die in Battle's flash,
    For the dear country we adore—
Struck breathless 'mid the glorious crash,
    When banners wave before
The fading eyes, and at the ears
We are caught by following Victory's
        cheers!

And sailor-blood that on the waves
    Can feel the Mother's heaving breast—
True sailor-blood no wailing craves
    Over its place of rest,
When souls first taste eternity
In those last kisses of the Sea:

And Death oft comes with kind release
    To win a smile from those that lie
Where they may feel the blessèd breeze,
    And look up at the sky,
And drink in, with their latest sigh,
A little air for strength to die:

But 'tis a fearful thing to be
    Instantly buried alive; fast-bound
In cold arms of Eternity
    That clasp the breathing round,
And hold them though their Comrades
        call
And dig with efforts useless all.

A tear for those who, in that night,
    Went down so unavailingly;
A cheer for those who fought our fight,
    And missed the victory!
Peace to the good true hearts that gave
A moral glory to that grave!

We know not how amid the gloom
    Some jewel of the just outshone;
With precious sparkle lit the tomb
    And led the hopeless on
To hope, and showed the only way
To find God's hand and reach His day.

We know not how in that quick hour
    Some poor uncultured human clod
May have put forth its one sweet flower,
    Acceptable to God:
Or how the touch of Death revealed
Some buried beauty life concealed:

We know now how the Dove of peace
    Came brooding on the fluttering breast,
To make the fond life-yearnings cease,
    And fold them up for rest;
And into shining shape the soul
Burst, like the flame from out the coal:

We only know the watch-fires burned
    Long in their eyes for human aid,
And failed, and then to God they turned,
    And altogether prayed,
And that the deepest Mine may be,
For prayer, God's whispering Gallery!

Dear God, be very pitiful
    To these poor toiling slaves of men;
Be gracious if their hearts be dull
    With darkness of their den:
'Tis hard for flowers of Heaven to grow
Down where the earth-flowers cannot blow!

Their lives are as the Candle-snuff,
    Black in the midst of its own light!
Let hard hands plead for spirits rough—
    They work so much in night.
Be merciful, they breathe their breath
So close to danger, pain, and death.

The love-mist in a Father's eye
    Must rise, and soften much that's rude
In his poor children—magnify
    The least faint gleam of good!
O, find some place for human worth
In Heaven, when it has failed on Earth.

 

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SONGS.


OLD FRIENDS.


WE just shake hands at meeting
    With many that come nigh;
We nod the head in greeting
    To many that go by,—
But welcome through the gateway
    Our few old friends and true;
Then hearts leap up, and straightway
    There's open house for you,
                                          Old Friends,
    There's open house for you!

The surface will be sparkling,
    Let but a sunburst shine;
Yet in the depth lies darkling,
    The true life of the wine!
The froth is for the many,
    The wine is for the few;
Unseen, untouched of any,
    We keep the best for you,
                                        Old Friends,
    The very best for you!

The Many cannot know us;
    They only pace the strand,
Where at our worst we show us—
    The waters thick with sand!
But out beyond the leaping
    Dim surge 'tis clear and blue;
And there, Old Friends, we are keeping
    A waiting calm for you,
                                        Old Friends,
    A resting-place for you.

 

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SYLVIA MAY.


"HEART of mine, so longing for rest,
 Better to build thy love-lined Nest
 On a storm-swung bough than a Woman's
         breast."

 
But this heart of mine still sayeth me, "Nay;"
 Shows me the picture of Sylvia May;
 Wilful hearts must have their way!

"Heart of mine, far wiser 'twould be
 To build thy Nest on a wave of the sea,
 Tossed and troubled perpetually."

 
But this heart of mine still sayeth me, "Nay;"
 And whispers the name of Sylvia May:
 Foolish hearts will have their way!

"Never was love I think like mine;
 Never was woman so nearly divine;
 Never could lives more perfectly twine."

 
And this heart of mine it murmureth, "YEA;"
 Wilful hearts must have their way—
 When will you marry me, Sylvia May?

 

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IN A DREAM.


SHE came but for a little while,
    Yet with a wondrous gleam;
She left within my soul her smile,
    The Darling of my Dream!

O face too clear for sorrow or tear,
    Too real for masks that seem;
I seek, but shall not find her Here,
    The Darling of my Dream!

I wonder do you wait for me
    Beside the glad Life-stream,
Or under the Leaf-of-Healing tree—
    You Darling of my Dream!

O sometimes lift your veil by night,
    And let one beauty-beam
Fill all my life for days with light,
    You Darling of my Dream!

 

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THAT MERRY, MERRY MAY.


AH! 'tis like a tale of olden
    Time, long, long ago;
When the world was in its golden
    Prime, and love was lord below!
Every vein of Earth was dancing
    With the Spring's new wine!
'Twas the pleasant time of flowers,
    When I met you, love of mine!
Ah ! some spirit sure was straying
    Out of heaven that day,
When I met you, Sweet! a-Maying
    In that merry, merry May.

Little heart! it shyly opened
    Its red leaves' love-lore,
Like a rose that must be ripened
    To the dainty, dainty core.
But its beauties daily brighten,
    And it blooms so dear,—
Though a many Winters whiten,
    I go Maying all the year.
And my proud heart will be praying
    Blessings on the day,
When I met you, Sweet, a-Maying,
    In that merry, merry May.

 

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A LOVER'S FANCY.

 
Sweet Heaven!   I do love a Maiden,
At her feet I bow love-laden;
When she's near me, heaven is round me,
Her dear presence doth so bound me!
I could wring my heart of gladness,
Might it free her lot of sadness!
Give the world, and all that's in it,
Just to press her hand a minute!
Yet she weeteth not I love her;
    Never dare I tell the sweet
Tale, but to the stars above her,
    And the flowers that kiss her feet.

O! to live and linger near her,
And in tearful moments cheer her!
I could be a Bird to lighten
Her sad heart—her sweet eyes brighten:
Or in fragrance, like a blossom,
Give my life up on her bosom!
For my love's withouten measure,
All its pangs are sweetest pleasure:
Yet she weeteth not I love her;
    Never dare I tell the sweet
Tale, but to the stars above her,
    And the flowers that kiss her feet.

 

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NO JEWELLED BEAUTY IS MY LOVE.


No jewelled Beauty is my Love,
    Yet in her earnest face
There's such a world of tenderness,
    She needs no other grace.
Her smiles, her voice, around my life
    In light and music twine;
And dear, O very dear to me
    Is this sweet Love of mine.

O joy! to know there's one fond heart
    Beats ever true to me!
It sets mine leaping like a lyre,
    In sweetest melody:
My soul up-springs, a Deity!
    To hear her voice divine;
And dear, O very dear to me,
    Is this sweet Love of mine.

If ever I have sighed for wealth,
    'Twas all for her, I trow;
And if I win Fame's victor-wreath,
    I'll twine it on her brow.
There may be forms more beautiful,
    And souls of sunnier shine,
But none, O none, so dear to me,
    As this sweet Love of mine.

 

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THE TWO ROSES.


SOFTLY stepped she over the lawn,
    In vesture light and free;
A floating Angel might have drawn
Her hair from heaven in a glory-dawn,
    And her voice rang silverly.
Then up she rose on her tiny tip-toes,
Her white hand catches, her fingers close:
"You are tall and proud, my dainty Rose;
    But I have you now," said She.

O so lightly over the lawn,
    Step for step went he!
Thinking how, from his hiding-place,
The war of Roses in her face,
    Dear Love would laugh to see!
Two arms suddenly round her he throws,
Two mouths, turning oneward, close;
"You are tall and proud, my dainty Rose!
    But I have you now," said He.

 

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SWEET-AND-TWENTY.


LIKE a Lady from a far land,
    Came my true Love brave to see!
As to heaven its rainbow garland,
    Is her beauty rich to me.

Or as some dim Mere may mirror
    One fair star that shines above,
So my life—ay growing clearer—
    Holds this tremulous star of love.

Look you, how she cometh trilling
    Out her gay heart's bird-like bliss!
Merry as a May-morn, thrilling,
    With the dew and sunshine's kiss.

Ruddy gossips of her beauty
    Are her twin cheeks: and her mouth
In its ripe warmth smileth, fruity
    As a garden of the south.

Ha! my precious Sweet-and-Twenty,
    Husband up your virgin pride!
Just a month and this dear, dainty
    Thing shall be my wedded Bride.

 

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THE WEDDING-RING.


THIS old world is scarce worth seeing,
    Till Love wave his purple wing,
And we gauge the bliss of being,
    Through a golden wedding-ring;
    Heigho, the wedding-ring.

Would you draw far Eden nearer,
    And to earth the Angels bring;
You must seek the magic mirror
    Of a golden wedding-ring;
    Heigho, the wedding-ring.

As the earth with sea is bounded,
    And the winter-world with spring,
So a Maiden's life is rounded
    With a golden wedding-ring;
    Heigho, the wedding-ring.

I have known full many a Maiden,
    Like a white rose withering,
Into fresh ripe beauty redden
    Through a golden wedding-ring;
    Heigho, the wedding-ring.

As the crescent Moon rings golden,
    Her full glory perfecting,
Womanly beauty is unfolden
    In a golden wedding-ring;
    Heigho, the wedding-ring.

Fainting spirits oft grow fearless,
    Sighing hearts will soar and sing,
Tearful eyes will laugh out tearless,
    Through a golden wedding-ring;
    Heigho, the wedding-ring.

 

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LOVE'S WESTWARD HO!


PLEASANT it is, wee Wife of mine,
    As by my side thou art,
To sit and see thy dear eyes shine
    With bonfires of the heart!
And young Love smiles so sweet and sly,
    From warm and balmy deeps,
As under-leaf the fruit may try
    To hide, yet archly peeps:
Gliding along in our fairy boat,
    With prospering skies above,
Over the sea of time we float
    To another New World of Love.

One of God's Darlings is our Guide:
    Ah, how it makes us lean,
Hearts beating lovingly side by side
    That nothing may come between.
As yon brave ring of Stars doth fold
    Our world, so is it given
To this wee ring of wedding gold
     To clasp us round with heaven;
Gliding along in our fairy boat,
    With prospering skies above,
Over the sea of time we float
    To another New World of Love.

 

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MY LOVE.


MY Love is true and tender,
    Her eyes are rich with rest;
Her hair of dappled splendour,
    The colour I love best;
So sweet, so gay, so odorous-warm,
    She nestles here, heart-high,
A bounteous aspect, beauteous form,
    But, just a wee bit sly.

My Love is no light Dreamer,
    A-floating with the foam;
But a brave life-sea swimmer,
    With footing found in Home.
My winsome Wife, she's bright without,
    And beautiful within;
But—I would not say quite without
    The least wee touch of sin.

My Love is not an Angel
    In one or two small things:
But just a wifely woman
    With other wants than wings.
You have some little leaven
    Of earth, you darling dear;
If you were fit for Heaven,
    You might not nestle here.

 

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LULLABY.


SOFTLY sink in slumbers golden,
    Warm as nestled Birdlings lie,
Safe in Mother's arms enfolden,
    While I sing thy lullaby.
Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby, lullaby,
Sweet one, sleep to my Lullaby.

Though the night doth darken, darken,
    Light will Mother's slumbers lie;
Still my heart will harken, harken,
    Lest her wee thing wake and cry.
Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby, lullaby,
Sweet one, sleep to my Lullaby.

At thy golden gate of slumber,
    Stands my spirit tiptoe-high,
Filled with yearnings without number,
    In thine inner heaven to fly.
Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby, lullaby,
Sweet one, sleep to my Lullaby.

In that world of mystic breathing,
    Spirit Sentinels, stand by!
Winnow, winnow, o'er my wee thing,
    Wings of Love that hover nigh.
Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby, lullaby,
Sweet one, sleep to my Lullaby.

Sleep! and drink the dew delicious
    Till the morrow dawn is high!
Sleep with Mother near her precious,
    Wake! with Mother waiting nigh.
Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby, lullaby,
Sweet one, sleep to my Lullaby.

 

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AUTUMN SONG.


THE summer days are ended;
    The after-glow is gone;
The nights grow long and eerie:
    The winds awake to moan;
The pleasant leaves are fading;
    The friendly swallows flee;
Yet welcome is the Winter
    That brings my Love to me.

No voice of bird now ripples
    The air; no wood-walk rings!
But in my happy bosom
    The soul of Music sings;
It sings of clearest heaven,
    And summers yet to be;
Then welcome to the Winter
    That brings my Love to me.

A world of gathered sunshine
  Is this warm heart of mine,
Where life hath heaped the fruitage,
  And love hath hid the wine.
And though there's not a flower
  In field, nor leaf on tree;
Yet welcome is the Winter
  That brings my Love to me.

 

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SYRINX.


METHOUGHT to bear her branches crowned
        With fruit, my virgin vine:
Another fills her arms; around
        Another life they twine!
                So I lost the day,
        And all the night I wake,—
Bird-like singing sad sorrow away,
        Until my heart shall break.

While others gleaned Life's field for gold,
        With Flowers I made a crown;
Till, looking up alone, behold,
        The deepening night came down!
                So I lost the day,
        And all the night I wake,—
Bird-like singing sad sorrow away,
        Until my heart shall break.

Poor me!   I clasped a reed, and missed
        My sweetest Syrinx fled!
Poor me! my tenderest music's kissed
        From lips of dear love dead.
                I have lost the day,
        And all the night I wake,—
Bird-like singing sad sorrow away,
        Until my heart shall break.

 

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O LAY THY HAND IN MINE, DEAR!


O LAY thy hand in mine, dear!
    We're growing old, we're growing old;
But Time hath brought no sign, dear,
    That hearts grow cold, that hearts grow
        cold.
'Tis long, long since our new love
    Made life divine, made life divine;
But age enricheth true love,
    Like noble wine, like noble wine.

And lay thy cheek to mine, dear,
    And take thy rest, and take thy rest;
Mine arms around thee twine, dear,
    And make thy nest, and make thy nest.
A many cares are pressing
    On this dear head, on this dear head;
But Sorrow's hands in blessing
    Are surely laid, are surely laid.

O lean thy life on mine, dear!
    'Twill shelter thee, 'twill shelter thee.
Thou wert a winsome vine, dear,
    On my young tree, on my young tree:
And so, till boughs are leafless,
    And Song-birds flown, and Song-birds
        flown,
We'll twine, then lay us, griefless,
    Together down, together down.

 

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LONG, LONG AGO.


OLD friend of mine, you were dear to my heart,
                        Long, long ago, long ago.
Little did we think of a time we should part,
                        Long, long ago, long ago.
Hand clasped in hand through the world we would 
           go.
Down our old untrodden path the wild weeds grow!
Great was the love 'twixt us; bitter was the smart:
                        Old friend of mine long ago.

Patient watch I kept for you many, many a day,
                        Long, long ago, long ago;
Waited and wept for you far, far away,
                        Long, long ago, long ago.
Merry came each May-tide, new leaves would start:
Never came my old friend back to my heart.
Lonely I went on my weary, weary way,
                        Old friend of mine long ago.

Oft as I muse at the shadowy nightfall
                        Over the dear Long Ago:
Borne on tears arises the dark, dark pall,
                        Fallen on my heart long ago.
Love is not dead, though we wander apart;
How I could clasp you, old friend, to my heart!
Barriers lie between us, but God knoweth all,
                        Old friend of mine long ago.

 

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A SOLDIER'S WIFE.


"AROUND us the day closes dense as a wood,
The Stars down the darkness with eerie eyes brood,
While out through the nightfall my restless thoughts 
        flee
To him who is fighting far over the sea.

"Across the mirk Moorland the birds of night cry;
A wind stirs my flesh as of ghosts gliding by;
Oh, clasp thy hands, pretty one, kneel down with 
        me,
And pray for thy Father far over the sea.

"So brave is my darling, so gallant and gay,
He'll flash through the fight in the wild, bloody 
        day;
He'll crest the top wave upon valour's red sea;
God shield him!   God send him back safely to me!"

He's lying, poor Wife! with the valiant and 
       
tried,
Who to-night shed their life on a reddened hill-
       
side:
And still she sings tenderly, "Over the sea,
Blow, breezes, and bring back my darling to me."

Her soul it sat smiling, all meek as a dove,
In her pure perfect face that was lighted with 
       
love;
Her child to the full heart endearing she drew,
And bowed like a Flower 'neath its blessing of 
       
dew.

Some luminous Presence glides over the place,
A white mist of glory! a white spirit-face!
And a starry Shape comes slow and sweet from 
       
the gloom;
God help thee, poor Widow! thy husband is 
       
home!

She knows not the Spirit that hovereth nigh,
Nor whence fell the slumber that healed her 
       
heart's cry;
But she weeps in her vision, and prayerfully
Still murmurs, "God send him back safely to me!"

 

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ROBIN'S SONG.


Sing, Robin Redbreast,
        Though you fill our hearts with pain:
Sing, bonny Robin,
        Though our tears fall like the rain
For a Lamb far from the fold,
In the wet and wintry mould!
For a Bird out in the cold,
        Bird alane!   Bird alane!

Sing, Robin Redbreast!
        You are welcome to our door;
Sing, darling Robin,
        Merry Larks no longer soar:
Autumn comes with feel of rain,
Mournful odours, wail of pain!
There's a Bird will come again
        Nevermore!   Nevermore!

Sing, Robin Redbreast!
        For we love your song so brave,
Though you mind us of a Robin
        Where the willows weep and wave:
To her little grave it clings,
Shakes the rain from its wet wings,
And for all the sadness sings
        By Her grave, by Her grave.

 

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THE ONLY ONE.


WITH tired feet, o'er thorny ground,
    My spirit made its quest;
On wearied wing it wandered round,
    But could not find a nest;
Till at the feet of Love I found
    At last my Only Rest!

I went the downward way of Doom,
    With those that walk in Night:
I stumbled on from tomb to tomb
    Of Joys that lured my sight;
Until Love touched me through the gloom
    And smiled,—my Only Light!

O, sweet the touch of hearts, and sweet
    The tie of Child and Wife,
And blessèd is the Home where meet
    True Souls that shut out strife ;
And as I nestle at Love's feet,
    I know my Only Life.

 

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A MAIDEN'S SONG.


I LOVE! and Love hath given me
        Sweet thoughts to God akin,
And oped a living Paradise
        My heart of hearts within:
O from this Eden of my life
        God keep the Serpent Sin!

I love! and into Angel-land
        With starry glimpses peer!
I drink in beauty like heaven-wine,
        When One is smiling near!
And there's a Rainbow round my soul
        For every rising tear.

Dear God in heaven! keep without stain
        My bosom's brooding Dove:
O clothe it meet for angel-arms,
        And give it place above!
For there is nothing from the world
        I yearn to take, but Love.

 

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LOVE.


                O LOVE!  Love!  Love!
        Its glory breaks our gloom,
And there's a new Heaven overhead,
        With all the earth in bloom.
'Tis sweet as Sunshine's golden kiss,
        That crowns the world anew:
Sweet as in Roses' hearts of bliss,
        Soft summer-dark drops dew.

                O Love!  Love!  Love!
        May make the true heart ache;
Pulse out its lavish life, and leave
        It mournfully to break!
But O how winsomely it starts
        The thoughts that bee-like cling,
To drain the honey from young hearts,
        And leave a bleeding sting!

                O Love!  Love!  Love!
         Its very pain endears!
And every wail and weeping brings
        Some blessing on our tears!
Love makes our darkest days, sweet dove!
        All goldenly go down,
And still we'll clothe ourselves with love,
        And crown us with Love's crown.

 

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NOW AND THEN.

 
O LOVE will make the leal heart ache
    That never ached before;
And meek or merry eyes 'twill make
    With solemn tears run o'er.
In tears we parted tenderly,
    My Love and I lang syne;
And evermore she vowed to be
    Mine own, aye mine, all mine!

Sing O the tree is blossoming,
    But worms are at the root;
And many a darling flower of Spring
    Will never come to fruit.
We meet now in the streets of life;
    All gone, the old sweet charms;
At my side leans a loving Wife;
    She—passes Babe-in-arms.

 

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EMIGRANT SONG.


BEHIND us lies a land, all dim
    With sighs of sorrows old;
Before us, on the ocean's rim,
    A land that looks of gold.
       We go, a fuller life to win,
            With freedom for th' opprest—
       But won't forget the old land, in
            That new world of the West.

We cannot weep who cross the deep,
     Unfairly driven forth;
We might not sow, we could not reap
    Our share of native earth.
        We go, a fuller life to win,
           With freedom for th' opprest—
        But won't forget the old land, in
            That new world of the West.

As Emigrants from land to land—
    From rise to set of sun,
We build the bridge till ocean's spanned,
    And all the world is one.
        We go, a fuller life to win,
            With freedom for th' opprest—
        But won't forget the old land, in
            That new world of the West.

 

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THE SAILOR'S ORPHAN CHILD.


HOW happy seems the Sailor's lot,
    On Summer seas to roam,
With pleasant dreams of that wee Cot
    Where wife and weans make "home."
But he must also face the war
    Of winds and waters wild,
To fall, perchance, from home afar,
    And leave an orphan child.

The Sailor in the tempest strives
    With might and main for you;
When raging billows race for lives,
    The Sailor brings us through.
Then succour those he leaves behind,
    As sea-drift safely Isled;
The Sailor's orphan is a kind
    Of every parent's child.

 

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ON DECK TOGETHER.


OUT of the water the wingèd fish flew,
Flashes of light from abysses of blue,
        In the goldenest tropical weather;
A pale still face seemed calling to me;
Words of cheer were spoken, and we
        Were friends on deck together.

Under a still and starry night
My lady arose to her stateliest height—
        Hair without tie or tether—
And there between the sky and the sea,
She walked and talked right merry with me,
        As we trod the deck together.

We meet no more the deck to tread;
But, when the Oceans have yielded their dead,
        I cannot help wondering whether
There will be another world where we
May voyage on some celestial sea,
        And tread the deck together.

 

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A PEARL DIVER.


SOUL of Jacoba, come forth from your shell,
My pearl of the Deep where you darklingly dwell,
The Diver hath found you, the secret is shown,
Never again will you nestle unknown;
Nevermore feel in your loneness alone!

Soul of Jacoba, arise and shine
From the sea-green depths of her eyes divine;
Soul of Jacoba, come forth and play
In the pale still face with a roseate ray,
And a smile that shall turn all the dark into day!

My Pearl ! that I saw by her own soft light;
My Pearl that bejewelled the gloom of her night,
The secretly precious, the hiddenly rare;
A prize to be won for the worthiest wear;
My Pearl shall be set with the first of the fair!

 

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PARTING.


Too fair, I may not call thee mine:
    Too dear, I may not see
Those eyes with bridal beacons shine;
    Yet, Darling, keep for me—
Empty and hushed, and safe apart,
One little corner of thy heart!

Thou wilt be happy, dear! and bless
    Thee; happy mayst thou be.
I would not make thy pleasure less;
    Yet, Darling, keep for me,
My life to light, my lot to leaven,
One little corner of thy Heaven!

Good-bye, dear heart!   I go to dwell
    A weary way from thee;
Our first kiss is our last farewell;
    Yet, Darling, keep for me—
Who wander outside in the night,
One little corner of thy light!

 

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"FOR EVER."


"FAREWELL, Sweet! may you find a nest
    Of home in haven dearer:
And safelier rest upon the breast
    Of truer love and nearer!
May favours fall, and blessings flow
    For you, and cares come never!
But kiss me, dear, before you go,
    And then shake hands for ever."

Her very heart within doth melt,
    And gathers while she lingers
A weeping warmth, as though it felt
    A wee Babe's feeling fingers:
The minutes pass, they do not part,
    And vain was all endeavour;
A touch had closed them heart to heart,
    And hands were clasped for ever.

 

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SHAKSPEARE.


OUR Prince of Peace in glory hath gone,
With no spear shaken, no sword drawn,
Without one battle-flag unfurled,
To make his conquest of the world.

For him no martyr-fires have blazed,
No limbs been racked, no scaffolds raised!
For him no blood was ever shed
To dye the Conqueror's raiment red.

And for all time he wears the crown
Of lasting, limitless, renown:
He reigns, whatever Monarchs fall;
His throne is at the heart of all.

 

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"ALL READY AND ALL ONE."


WHAT is the News to-day, Boys?
    Have they fired the Signal gun?
We answer but one way, Boys:
We are ready for the fray, Boys.
    All ready and all one!

They shall not say we boasted
    Of deeds that would be done;
Or sat at home and toasted:
We are marshalled, drilled and posted,
    All ready and all one!

We are not as driven cattle
    That would the conflict shun.
They have to test our mettle
As Volunteers of Battle,
    All ready and all one!

The life-streams of the Mother
   Through all her youngsters run,
And brother stands by brother,
To die with one another,
    All ready and all one!

Sydney, 1885.

 

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ENGLAND.


THERE she sits in her Island-home,
        Peerless among her Peers!
And Liberty oft to her arms doth come,
        To ease its poor heart of tears.
Old England still throbs with the muffled fire
        Of a Past she can never forget:
And again shall she herald the World up higher;
        For there's life in the Old Land yet.

They would mock at her now, who of old looked 
            forth
        In their fear, as they heard her afar;
But loud will your wail be, O Kings of the Earth!
        When the Old Land goes down to the war.
The Avalanche trembles, half-launched, and half-
            riven,
        Her voice will in motion set:
O ring out the tidings, wide-reaching as Heaven!
        There's life in the Old Land yet.

The old nursing Mother's not hoary yet,
        There is sap in her ancient tree:
She lifteth a bosom of glory yet,
        Through her mists, to the Sun and the Sea—
Fair as the Queen of Love, fresh from the foam
        Or a star in a dark cloud set;
Ye may blazon her shame,—ye may leap at her 
            name,—
        But there's life in the Old Land yet.

Let the storm burst, you will find the Old Land
        Ready-ripe for a rough, red fray!
She will fight as she fought when she took her 
            stand
        For the Right in the olden day.
Rouse the old royal soul, Europe's best hope
        Is her sword-edge for Victory set!
She shall dash Freedom's foes down Death's 
            bloody slope;
        For there's life in the Old Land yet.

 

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THE OLD LAND.


O LEAL high hearts of England,
    The evil days draw near,
When ye, with steel in heart and hand,
    Must strike for all that's dear!
And better tread the bloodiest deck,
    And fieriest field of fame,
Than break the heart and bow the neck,
    And sit in the shadow of shame.
Let Despot, Death, or Devil come,
    United here we stand:
We'll safely guard our Island-Home,
    Or die for the dear old Land.

O, Warriors of Old England,
    You'll hurry to the call;
And her good ships shall sail the storm,
    With their merry Mariners all.
In words she wasteth not her breath,
    But be the trumpet blown,
And in the Battle's dance of death,
    She'll dance the bravest down.
Let Despot, Death, or Devil come,
    United here we stand:
We'll safely guard our Island-Home,
    Or die for the dear old Land.

Success to our dear England,
    When dark days come again;
And may she rise up glorious
    As the rainbow after rain.
A thousand memories warm us still,
    And, ere the old spirit dies,
The purple of each wold and hill
    From English blood shall rise.
Let Despot, Death, or Devil come,
    United here we stand:
We'll safely guard our Island-Home,
    Or die for the dear old Land.

God strike with our dear England!
    Long may the old land be
The guiding glory of the world;
    Home of the fair and free!
Old Ocean on his silver shield
    Shall lift our little Isle
Unvanquished still by flood or field,
    While the heavens in blessing smile.
Let Despot, Death, or Devil come,
    United here we stand:
We'll safely guard our Island-Home,
    Or die for the dear old Land.

 

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SEA-SONG.


COME, show your Colours now, my Lads,
    That all the world may know
The Boys are equal to their Dads,
    Whatever blast may blow.

All hands aboard! our country calls
    On her Seafaring folk!
In giving up our wooden Walls,
    More need for Hearts of Oak.

Remember how that old Fire-Drake
    Would singe the Spaniard's beard;
And think how Raleigh, Nelson, Blake,
    Into their harbours steered.

Think how o' nights we cut them out!
    'Twas many a time and oft—
Silence!—a rush—a tug—a shout—
    And the old flag flew aloft.

Be it one to seven,—be it Hell or Heaven,—
    We fought our decks red-wet!
Be it hell or heaven,—be it one to seven.—
    We fear no Foeman yet.

At every port-hole there shall flame
    The same fierce battle-face:
All worthy of the old sea-fame—
    All of the old Sea-Race.

 

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OUR NATIVE LAND.


THIS is our Mother Country!
        The dearest land;
        The rarest land.
Round which the sea keeps sentry,
        Or Ships are manned;
        Or ships are manned.
Nothing but Heaven above her!
        And here's my hand;
        And here's my hand.
We are brothers all who love her,
        Our Native Land;
        Dear Native Land.

Afar and near they hail her,
        With greetings warm;
        With greetings warm.
The famous old brave Sailer,
        That rode the storm;
        Ay, many a storm.
Who would not die to save her,
        Shall bear the brand;
        The Coward's brand.
In love we never waver
        For Native Land;
        Dear Native Land.

No matter where our place is,
        We may go forth;
        We may go forth.
And turn dead frozen faces
        Home from the North;
        Home from the North.
Or sink 'neath orient Heaven,
        In burning sand;
        Waste, desert sand.
Our lives shall still be given
        For Native Land;
        Dear Native Land

Oft-times the Foe beheld us,
        All torn apart;
        All torn apart.
Although a blow would weld us
        All one at heart;
        All one at heart.
Now trust we in each other,
        A little band;
        A happy band.
As Children of one Mother!
        Our Native Land;
        Dear Native Land.

Some new heroic story
        The world shall learn;
        The world shall learn.
If we who keep her glory
        Are true and stern;
        All true and stern.
Come wild and warring weather,
        We ready stand;
        All ready stand.
To fight or fall together
        For Native Land;
        Dear Native Land.


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